Safety Helmets

Head injuries are one of the most common injuries in the workplace. Where risks of bumps and scrapes, objects falling from a height or flying debris exists, it's important to keep the head protected with a hard hat.

Injuries suffered from impacts to the head can be severe and can range from minor concussions or contusions to permanent brain damage and even death.

At Cromwell, we recognise the importance of worker safety, and supply a wide range of high-quality safety helmets from well-known brands, like 3M Peltor™, Alpha Solway® and Centurion®.

What are hard hats?

Hard hats or safety helmets are supplied in a range of colours and made using tough, shock-absorbent materials to protect the head against impact.

The shell of the helmet is usually made from ABS or HDPE, which are both tough and durable materials with excellent impact resistance. All safety helmets have a head harness or cradle to balance the helmet safely and comfortably on the head, while heavy-duty hard hats will feature a foam inner to absorb heavier impact.

For those working at a height, the harness will extend to a chinstrap to keep the helmet secured to the head, while a chin pad will ensure stability and protect the chin and jaw against impact.

Why hard hats?

Hard hats are a crucial part of a comprehensive personal protection workwear. Simple to use and easy to don and doff, they are effective at protecting your head.

When are hard hats used?

When there's a risk of falling objects, electrical shock and falling from a height, a safety helmet must be supplied and worn. This is the case in a wide range of industries including construction, tree surgery, warehousing, logistics and more.

Hard hat types

Hard hats are available in a variety of types to protect against a range of risks in different settings. They regularly incorporate vents for attachments such as ear defenders or safety visors. All hard hats must be CE marked and comply with BS EN 397.

• Lightweight   -   Ideal for low-risk applications

• Standard EN 397   -   This common safety helmet protects against blows to the head from a falling object.

• Industrial EN 397   -   Widely used in construction, this safety helmet features an internal shell that protects against blows from above and laterally

• Climbing EN 12492   -   Used by tree surgeons and roofers, this type features a chinstrap to keep the helmet secure, and sometimes vents to clip in a visor if required

• High-performance industrial EN 397   -   Used in high-risk settings with visors and ear defenders often packaged together

• Anti-static EN 13463-1   -   Used in high-risk settings with risks of explosions

Considerations when choosing hard hats

• Hazards - the type of risks and direction of impact is the first step to identifying the correct hard hat.

• Setting - each work environment comes with its own risks and could impact the type of helmet chosen.

• Fit - the harness must be adjustable to your head proportions to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.

• Other PPE - if ear defenders and safety goggles are also required, choose a helmet with mounts to clip extra PPE into place to ensure they work to standard.

Hard hat jargon buster

To help you find what you're looking for, we've broken down and explained a key safety helmet standard to help you identify protection and applications more easily.

What does the safety eyewear standard BS EN 397:2012 + A1:2012 mean?

BS EN 397:2012 + A1:2012 outlines the performance characteristics required for safety helmets, including the testing methods and marking requirements (which requires the CE mark and date to be moulded into the helmet shell).

Let's break it down...

• BS - This is the British Standards Institute

• EN - This is the European standard

• 397 - This is the legislation number

• 2012 - This is the year this standard was updated and supersedes the 1995 version

• A1 - This is the number of amendments, in this case, one

• 2012 - This is the year the amendment was applied


What do the colours of a hard hat mean?

Safety helmets are worn in the UK according to a colour scheme. White signifies management level and is often combined with a labelled or differently coloured hi-vis jacket. Supervisors wear a black helmet, while general workers wear yellow. Visitors to the site are given a blue hard hat to wear, while first aiders and fire wardens are identified by using high visibility stickers, so they're easy to find.

Network Rail have different requirements for PPE, including orange hi-vis jackets and white or blue hard hats only.

Do hard hats expire?

As a rule of thumb, hard hats expire five years after the date of first use. Workers are encouraged to register this date on the inside of their helmet and there's sometimes a label supplied especially for this purpose. The head cradle should be replaced after twelve months of use, with low-cost replacements widely available.

If the outer shell of a hard hat is cracked or dented, then it must be replaced immediately. Similarly, if a hard hat withstands a blow or heavy impact, it should be replaced even if it appears undamaged. It's good practice to check your PPE every time before wear to ensure it's in good condition and will supply the protection required.

For more information on hard hats see our Head Protection Guide...